Breakthrough

I think I just had a breakthrough.

I have always been a very anxious person. I worry about everything. And then I worry about the fact that I worry about everything. No exaggeration.

Before sending pretty much any text, I have to reread it at least 3 times–are there any grammatical errors? Embarrassing. Is the wording perfect? Is that really the right emoji? I don’t want to be offensive in any way. Do I use too many emojis? Not enough? Ugh, again, embarrassing. Is it too long? Too short? Don’t want to drone on and be a bore or appear rude. Have I texted this person too often lately? Don’t want to look desperate. Not enough? Don’t want to appear uninterested. *Send* Why did I just do that?! They probably won’t read it anyway. And if they do, they definitely won’t respond. 

I need to know how a day is going to play out the night before. If I don’t have a general idea of what is going to happen, I can’t fall asleep. If plans change, it’s like the world was turned upside down. You want to try a NEW restaurant for dinner?! But I was excited about making a roast! Where is it? That’s kind of a sketchy area. What if we get lost and something bad happens? What if the restaurant isn’t clean? What if the food is terrible? What if there’s no one else there, so everyone can hear what we’re talking about? What if there are too many people there and it’s so loud we can’t hear each other? 

I used to be terrified that someone was going to break into our house and kidnap me or kill my family in front of me. Those were real thoughts that I had nightly and sometimes they seeped into my dreams. I can still remember one recurring dream I had where these thugs came in the middle of the day posing as some kind of tradesmen and they would threaten my parents and I would sneak out of the house and run as far as I could. But they would always find me. I would ask my parents multiple times before bed to check that all the doors were locked (even though we live in a very safe area). I also asked them to leave a TV on as long as they were awake, so I would know they were still safe. Every rustle or creak convinced me that those thoughts were finally coming true. There was definitely someone walking around the house with a gun. Because of those thoughts and dreams, I became scared of answering the phone and the door. To this day, I will not answer a phone call or the door unless I know without a doubt who it is and what their purpose is. (I literally hide from UPS and FedEx.)

I also have social anxiety. I’ve always been shy, but I think this goes beyond it. If I’m talking to someone I don’t know face to face, especially if they are in some position of authority, my face gets beet red, I start sweating like a crazy person and come this close to crying. My brain shuts down. I can’t process anything. If I have to initiate a phone call with someone I don’t know, it takes at least 45 minutes for me to actually dial and press send. I have to psych myself up. That’s okay as a kid, but it’s pretty hard to function in the adult world if you can’t effectively communicate with people you don’t know.

There were periods in my life when that anxiousness completely took over and smothered the real me. (I would prefer not to revisit that time, so let your imagination run free. It’ll probably end up where mine did.)

For some reason I really felt like I was supposed to learn more about anxiety last night (I don’t know why I had never done so in the past). I remembered reading something about Emma Stone being very anxious (finally the La La Land obsession paid off!). I did a quick search and came across this article where she talks about how debilitating it was when she was younger and a book she made to help deal with it.

“I wrote this book called I Am Bigger Than My Anxiety that I still have: I drew a little green monster on my shoulder that speaks to me in my ear and tells me all these things that aren’t true. And every time I listen to it, it grows bigger. If I listen to it enough, it crushes me. But if I turn my head and keep doing what I’m doing – let it speak to me, but don’t give it the credit it needs – then it shrinks down and fades away.”

As I kept rereading that quote last night, I realized that that felt familiar. It wasn’t until this morning when I started reflecting on it in my journal that it really hit me.

I’ve been thinking of myself as this negative person for years. But when I’m not listening to that little voice in my ear, I’m actually a very happy and positive person! I don’t like being a Debbie Downer. It doesn’t feel natural. Happiness feels natural. Laughing feels natural. Joking feels natural. Being hopeful and positive feels natural. It’s the voice that brings me down. I’ve been feeding it for far too long.

It’s made me realize that I don’t have a million huge problems, like it sometimes feels. I have one major problem that presents itself in a million little ways. And it always seems easier to fix one problem than a million all at once!

I feel like I can finally see the sun coming out from behind the clouds!

I don’t know how much this new outlook will change, but I feel a lot more hopeful than I have in a long time!

(I definitely reread this 3 times before pressing “Publish.” I’m hoping this will be helpful to someone, just like Emma’s story was helpful to me.)

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Remembering a Dream

You know that feeling when you’re trying to remember a really good dream after you wake up? That’s how I’ve been feeling lately when I listen to La La Land. I feel like it’s supposed to inspire me somehow. But I can never quite grasp it.

If I’m being honest, I was starting to get a little sick of the music. Then one day last week I stopped singing along and just listened.

That is so much more powerful.

It moved me.

I feel inspired to do something–I just don’t know what it is I’m supposed to do.

It calms me, which is actually enough right now. It centers me.

My life has been a lot more hectic since we got back from Hawaii. Next week will be the first really normal week, schedule-wise.

So I suppose I’ve needed that one steady thing to bring me back from the craziness.

I think I’m in for a year of self-discovery.

Finding My Somewhere

I have to admit something:

I. Love. La La Land.

Actually, I don’t just love it. I’m a teeny bit obsessed with it.

And by obsessed, I mean I’ve seen it in theaters 4 times and have had the soundtrack playing almost constantly on a loop for more than a month now.

As I was listening to this song for the thousandth time (at this point in my obsession that’s probably not even an exaggeration anymore) this morning, this line grabbed my attention. It already stands out, since it isn’t directly surrounded by any other lyrics. But it hit me in a more personal way today.

“Is someone in the crowd the only thing you really see? Watching while the world keeps spinning round. Somewhere there’s a place where I’ll find who I want to be. A somewhere that’s just waiting to be found.”

I have spent my whole life wanting to be someone in the crowd just watching other people live their lives. It’s safer that way. And I’ve been able to get away with that for a long time.

But now I’m starting to feel like I have to start living more boldly.

But when–and how–is my purpose going to make itself apparent?

My dad was telling me that if he’d known that everything would work out, he would’ve taken advantage of and enjoyed his single years more.

But it’s hard to appreciate the stage you’re at when you’re not positive that it actually will work out.

But then again, how positive can you be that something is really going to work out–even the best things can go downhill.

I feel like I should be enjoying this time a lot more than I am. I’m still trying to figure out who I am, I’m living at home, I’m single, I have an extremely flexible job and I’m still young.

Yet I find myself worrying about the future all. the. time.

I know I have to put myself out there more to get everything I’ve always wanted for my life, but it’s so comfortable in my bubble.

As I was looking through random notes on my phone the other day, I came across this quote:

Let your faith be stronger than your fears.

I saw it in my new favorite store in Hawaii and it made me think. I completely forgot about it, until I stumbled across it a few days ago.

I’m having a little trouble with the faith part right now. My fears have always had a tendency to take over. 
But I’m trying to think about this quote throughout the day and make different choices.

Because nothing will change if nothing changes.

I have to go out and find my somewhere. 

September

I think September is becoming one of my favorite months. May and September. They’re the best. I’m really loving the cooler temperatures right now! This summer was too hot.

August was pretty crazy. I turned 22, we toured the new Vikings stadium and attended the first ever (preseason) home game in it, we went to the county and state fairs, and I became the mom.

Let me explain that last one: My parents and my brother and sister-in-law took me to a show for my birthday and we ended up asking one of my best friends to babysit J at our house for the night. Well, I’m the one who watches her the most and knows her routines here, so I was the one giving the directions and checking in and having a hard time saying goodbye. I told my friend before we left that I felt like I was the mom! (They both had a BLAST with each other and I secretly loved being on the other side of it!)

I do have one regret about my birthday, though: we bought a cake. That has never been done in my lifetime. When my friend came over she was complimenting my mom and telling her that she really has this cake thing figured out. When we told her we bought it, she was so surprised she almost spit it out! That’s kind of the one thing you could always count on in our family: a homemade birthday cake. My mom’s birthday is in a few weeks, so I’m going to make an extra special cake for “her.”

One more birthday note: Juliana has kind of figured out the “Happy Birthday” thing. It started with my dad’s birthday and her saying “Happy Papa.” Then it was her mom’s birthday (“Happy Mama”). But for mine, she didn’t say “Happy Carrie,” because she can’t say my name. So I have been renamed “Tia,” which I actually think is adorable because it means aunt in Spanish. So I got some “Happy Tia” songs!

Now, on to September:

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As I mentioned, it’s my mom’s birthday this month. She has a rather unfortunate birthday, 9/11, but she came first so I’ve always chosen to celebrate the day as opposed to mourning. Last year was the first time that I actually felt like I was mourning with the rest of the country, because she was out of town so we had already celebrated her birthday the day before.

It’s also my brother’s birthday. And then pretty much immediately after that, the little girl will be two.

Honestly, I struggle with the grandma/Juliana relationship a little bit. I’m jealous, because I never remember having a really loving relationship with my mom. I loved her because she was my mom and that was that. There’s never been a deep connection, like there is with my dad. So instead of being happy for them and participating in the relationship, it almost makes me sad.

And even though my mom doesn’t approve of how many pictures I take of them, I can’t stop. They will both cherish these pictures someday.

The one thing about their relationship that does make me smile, is that when I have kids someday, they won’t remember their grandma the same way I do. They will remember her as the most loving, caring, supportive, and fun grandma they’ve ever known. This isn’t to say that she’s a bad mom, she’s not. We just don’t have as deep a connection as other mothers and daughters. Or grandmothers and granddaughters.

I’m excited for the next month and all of the changes it will bring. But I’m really, really, really excited to leave this heat behind. I’m ready for my Chai Tea Latte!

Happy September!

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August

cannot believe that it’s August already. Like, seriously. This year is just speeding by!

My birthday is in less than two weeks and it’s already looking like it may give last year a run for its money.

July definitely did feel like a whirlwind. We had so much going on, the weather has been crazy hot (by my standards) and I kind of ran myself ragged. I could use a little bit of a break and August doesn’t look like the month it’ll happen.

Fittingly, the mindset I had when I made the calendar page for this month is exactly where I’m at now: doubting.

Not that I don’t love all of these pictures. Because I totally do.

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These were my favorite pictures at the time.

I didn’t do any pictures of us together, like I did with the other birthday months, because my mom made me feel really insecure about them. I hate it when I let her (or anyone else) get inside my head like that. I look back at my first selfies with J fondly now and wish I had included them.

So I was thinking that I would share some of my favorite recent selfies with J.

But first let me just tell you about the pictures that are on the calendar.

I think the big one would have been included anyways, because it really is one of my favorite pictures of J’s first year.

The top one on the right is one of the first pictures where I remember thinking “Wow, she’s actually a kid.” Which of course seems crazy now, because she looks so little!

The bottom one on the right was actually taken on my birthday last year. It was one of the better pictures taken that day. She was a little under the weather, so she wasn’t her usual happy, energetic self. But she really enjoyed trying to play the rope game with Cocoa!

Now for some current faves!

I’m not going to go into specifics about each one, because I think they’re pretty much self-explanatory. These are the pictures I go to on the hard days.

I never understood why my parents always wanted a person in all of their vacation pictures, but I get it now.

I’ve taken thousands of pictures of Juliana’s life, but the most meaningful ones are the ones that convey our relationship.

Without me in them, where’s the proof that I was ever really there?

Anyway, this is my month and it should be about everything and everyone I love. I think it’s pretty obvious that I love this girl with my whole heart.

On that note, I kicked off August the right way yesterday! I had a great day with the girl and got to spend a lot of time in the kitchen making some of my new favorite meals: quiche in the morning and ribs/grill-pack potatoes/cucumber salad in the afternoon.

I apologize for being a little all over the place with this post, but it was actually very therapeutic!

Happy August!

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She’s Coming Back!

It can happen. Everything can work out.

I recently quit a job I was only at for about 2 months. It didn’t fit as well as I thought it would with my preferred lifestyle and interests.

This was a decision that I thought about every day I was employed there.

I thought that it would be a painful process all around, but eventually I decided that I had to live my life and do what I thought would be best for me.

And to my surprise, everyone was very supportive and understanding of my decision.

Now I am once again nannying and have become comfortable enough saying that without blowing it off as a temporary gig in the same sentence.

I don’t know why some people see nannying as a disappointment. For me, I know it’s exactly what I want to and should be doing at this point in my life. I love it, even through its challenges.

Sometimes being selfish is okay. Sometimes it’s exactly what you need.

Everything worked out exactly the way I needed it to. I realize now that I needed the experience of working at a job I wasn’t thrilled about, so I could gain the confidence to go after one that I was excited about.

I feel the “happy Carrie” coming back more and more each day and I’m so relieved that she’s back!

A Little More Time

I have been suffering from a bad case of blogger’s burnout, which seems to be a common theme this time of year. I have been trying to adjust to a new schedule and a new way of thinking and I have had absolutely no interest in spending my time writing, photographing, or even cooking. Seriously, the number of meals I make myself has probably dropped about 75% in the last month. All I can bring myself to do during my free time is a) try to figure out what the hell I want to do with my life and when that fails b) binge watch The Good Wife.

Oh, yeah, remember how much I said I love mornings? I stopped setting alarms and now wake up close to 9 a.m. every morning. You have no idea how much that pisses me off. But, one night I just decided that if I’m not going to do anything else with my life, at least I’m going to get as much sleep as my body needs. So there’s that.

I also got slammed with pink eye last week. Now I understand why my niece was so miserable when she had it earlier this year. Man.

And Cocoa gave us a scare this weekend. Even my mom (who won’t admit that she loves him) said she was scared that maybe he had a tumor. He’s almost the same age our last dog was when he died and he means so much to my niece, so every little thing worries us. But after a weekend of all of us subtly saying our goodbyes, yesterday the vet reassured us that he’s one of the healthiest dogs he’s seen and still has a long life ahead of him. He just needs to take a week off from golf cart-chasing.

Life hasn’t been as rosy this month and I so badly want everything to be back to normal. I want to feel like the Carrie I discovered almost one year ago to the day. She was so happy and full of life and had passions, but most importantly she had faith that everything would work out. This Carrie is a little lacking in that department.

So, I just ask you all to continue to be patient with me. I’ve taken a big step by writing this post, but I need a little more time to rediscover myself. I will try to post a little more regularly this next month, but at least you now know why I may not. I hope this will benefit all of us and make me a better (and more interesting) person all around.